NO HELMET, NO PROBLEM—Courier photographer Thomas Sabol captures Steelers rookie LB T.J. Watt still battling, even after his helmet was knocked off, during a play against the Falcons, Aug. 20 at Heinz Field.

“Got my mojo working, but it just won’t work on you. Got my mojo working, but it just won’t work on you. I’m going down to Louisiana to get me a mojo hand I’m going down to Louisiana to get me a mojo hand. Got my mojo working, but it just won’t work on you.” (Muddy Waters)

The Pittsburgh Steelers faced the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Aug. 20 at Heinz Field and won by the untidy score 17-13. Regardless of how this almost-meaningless preseason game played out, the game caused me to have a flashback to a song that my father and grandfather used to love; “I got my mojo working,” recorded by the late, great Muddy Waters. My “pap” and my father would often refer to a man or woman who had fallen madly in love with the opposite sex as being a victim of “roots” or a well-placed “mojo” or spell that was placed upon them.

AUBREY BRUCE
COURIER STEELERS CENTRAL

Let’s fast forward to the Steelers of 2017. If last Sunday was any indicator, the Steelers just might be the new “root” workers in the NFL, especially in the division where they compete, the AFC North. Players with names like Juju Smith-Shuster, Fitzgerald Toussaint and Stephon Tuitt seem as if they are fresh off a Louisiana riverboat looking to make a few friendly wagers. With “Juju” lining up for the Black and Yellow, I am totally convinced that a new “mojo-hand” will have a place of residence in the Steelers nation. Take a listen boys and girls, if the Steelers can’t get their mojo going, I am reasonably certain that they can get their “Juju” workin’, even if “Juju” hasn’t quite proven himself yet. Another one of the sorcerer’s apprentices that may be on the true road to stardom is rookie running back James Conner. After a slow start against the Falcons, Conner turned up the propane tank and torched the Falcons for 98 yards on 20 carries. The one negative about Conner’s performance was that he dropped a few easy passes, but those miscues could have easily been attributed to a slight case of the jitters. Nonetheless, he confirmed that he realizes how important it is for him to be a quality receiver in Steelers offensive coordinators Todd Haley’s offense as well as a great rusher. Conner does not want to be a “situational” back and said as much. “(I don’t want to be) short yardage, I just want to be a valuable receiver,” he said. As the game progressed, Conner also appeared as if he became more comfortable with the Steelers’ zone-blocking scheme.

GOIN’ THE OTHER WAY—Courier photographer Thomas Sabol captures the hoopla surrounding one of Jordan Dangerfield’s two interceptions for the Steelers, as they defeated the Falcons, 17-13, Aug. 20.

For over the past decade, the real backroom gamblers, the New England Patriots, have kept a mojo-hand on the Steelers. First, they cheated the Steelers, then they beat the Steelers, then they cheated and beat the Steelers. Pittsburgh never really knew whether they were cheated, beaten, outfoxed or outcoached. Pittsburgh oftentimes looked timid, almost appearing to be in a semi-fetal position even before the game began. But hold up lads and lassies…the era of “timidity” in regards to Pittsburgh facing New England seems as if it may have become past tense. A once-unsure and tentative Steelers defense may now have their “Tutu” and the remainder of his D-line cronies operating in sync and that, my friends, does not bode well for the rest of the NFL offenses. “We know we can get to the quarterback, it’s just getting there,” Tuitt proclaimed. “We will be using a lot of different ways (to do that). We gave up a lot of third down conversions at the beginning of the game. They moved the ball on us and they converted third downs but this is a preseason game, we’re just out here—we’re not going to show too much.”

If the Steelers back up strong safety Jordan Dangerfield “got no respect” before the Steelers/Falcons clash, I am certain that offensive coordinators from around the league will taking a fresh look at film featuring Mr. Dangerfield after he burned the Falcons for a couple of picks. Rodney Dangerfield may have moved on to the spirit world, but Jordan Dangerfield is very much alive and kickin. ‘

Many Steelers’ past players and coaches who may have been “spellbound” by the “riverboat gamblers and sorcerers” from the land of Paul Revere, masquerading as a professional football team…those days may be gone. The cards are now being dealt from a new deck by a new set of dealers and fortunately for the Steelers, the cards are not marked and the Patriots do not get to deal first, and the Steelers younger players are not intimidated by history because they have not been a part of past losers. Can’t you imagine, the wind blowing through the Patriots, the slightly ajar “window of opportunity” for an NFL championship, causing the “candles of exposure” to flicker, casting an eerie glow on the photo of Bill Belichick, causing many skeletons in the New England Patriots’ closet to begin rattling at the stroke of midnight?

The Pittsburgh Steelers no longer have to worry about any other NFL teams’ mojo because they may finally have figured out and gotten their own mojo working, and that, boys and girls, spells trouble for the rest of the NFL.

 

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